When coming up with the idea for a year-end performance for the students at Howe Sound Dance Academy (HSDA), director Shalimar Blanchard has to ensure the show features ample stage time for everyone involved.
After all, the local dance school has some 275 students ranging in age from three to 18, and many of the young dancers — and their families — anxiously look forward to their moments in the spotlight.
“I always look for a storyline that offers lots of possibilities for involving many dancers and lots of dances,” said Blanchard.
The process for this year’s year-end performance began during the finale of last year’s production of Wizard of Oz, when Blanchard said she came up with a sweet idea for the 2012 edition.
“Candies,” she said. “I immediately thought of Hansel and Gretel (and the duo’s encounter with a witch’s sugary house). Everyone can be a different kind of candy.”
With that small idea, Blanchard set about spending the rest of the year coming up with the dances and logistics behind the show, happening at Eagle Eye Theatre over the weekends of June 8, 9, and 15, 16.
“Over the course of the year, music has had to be found, original dances choreographed and costumes figured out,” she said. “But I don’t do it alone. I have a hip-hop, jazz, modern and another ballet teacher and the five of us put the show together.”
But it is still a lot of work making sure aspiring dancers get to perform.
“Given the size of the dance school, and the relatively limited seating at Eagle Eye, we can’t put on a five-hour show featuring everyone,” she said. “So we have A and B casts performing on different nights,” she said. “But again, it is difficult to schedule, as we do have the odd student who seems to be on stage all the time.”
With more than 30 dances being performed each night, the logistics can be challenging, she said.
“In those cases, we’re just making sure they have enough time between dances to change costumes,” Blanchard said. “I’m just happy when they all go on — and then come off.”
The Howe Sound Dance Academy’s year-end performance of Hansel and Gretel takes place June 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. (with a 2 p.m. early show on Saturday) and again on June 15 and 16.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and it is a general admission show with doors opening at 1:30 or 7 p.m. respectively. For more info go to howesounddance.com.